Training Overview #sftsRUNS

18 Aug

Welcome to a half-hearted installment of my 10K Training Overview!  This is a weekly practically-defunct series in which I document my weekly running progress, nutrition, photos, and mileage as I train for Pittsburgh’s 2014 Great Race on September 28th.  If you are on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook – you can also follow along using the hashtag #sftsRUNS.   These overviews are intended not only for me as a way to document my fitness journey, but also as a means to inspire other newbie runners who are ready to move beyond the 5K distance.


Weekly Overview:

Well, well, well.  So we meet again Weekly Overview.  Tbh, I thought of you as my nemesis for a few weeks there, but it’s time to face those fears.  I literally (and by that I mean, in theory or probably or supposedly) have a psychological condition in which I put so much pressure on myself to do something that I freak out and sabotage myself.  I think I have a fear of being successful.  Sad, really.  The worst part of this psychological condition is that it’s made up, so the only remedy is to get over it.  Combine that drama with a few weeks of depression and it made for a whole lot of un-training.  Or counter-training.  Per my usual routine, I took a two-week break from running right smack in the middle of my training program.  I didn’t run a single mile from 7/27 – 8/9.   You know, just long enough to lose fitness and want to shoot myself in both feet.  Unluckily, I was born with the gene that loves to make myself suffer, but LUCKILY it came with the freakishly competitive gene that has to come out on top.  So my training program, my overview posts, my dignity, and my goal will all be salvaged.

Training Plan:

Since I’ve taken 2 weeks off, this section is insignificant this week.  I will be writing a TON here next week I’m sure as I reevaluate my training program yet again.

Weight Change:

My weight loss goal is 150 lbs.  By August, my goal is to be down to 175 lbs.  I weigh in immediately after I wake up on Monday mornings.  This morning I weighed in at 185 lbs.!!!  Only 10 lbs. to go by the end of the month.  Since I’ve been mostly sedentary, I know that reaching my summer goal weight is still very much a reality.  Over the weekend, it felt phenomenal to go shopping with my sister and know that I wasn’t relegated to the small sections marked “XL” anymore.  I actually bought a pair of size MEDIUM yoga pants from Victoria’s Secret.  Last summer, I couldn’t even wear the brand at all – this was a huge victory for me!!!  I’ve said it a hundred times and I will keep saying it:  progress happens in the kitchen!  Clean eating is 100% responsible for my continued weight loss progress.

Physical Condition:

I went for a 2 mile walk yesterday with my mom and I felt like it was the jump-start I needed.  I was actually winded from walking up a baby size hill and that scared me.  Turns out, I think it was just my allergies, but it lit that fire under my ass!

Mental Condition:

I’m getting there.  It’s true what they say:  the more active you are, the more active you want to be.  The reverse is also true, the more lazy you are, the more lazy you want to be.  I know that each decision I made to be inactive fueled the vicious cycle of inactivity.  Our habits really are just a series of decisions that create results.  It’s a big powerful thing when you realize that you pick the results you want by simply making the decision that matches up.   I think that’s why healthy living suits me – the practice of it follows the same principles that the practice of sustainability does.  Be mindful, be accountable, and think of the bigger picture.


Even when I’m not sticking to my clean eating routine, I still eat pretty healthy.  Even on a bad day, I’m having a better day than most people.  Even though it took me YEARS of trial and error to teach myself how to eat/think about nutrition, the struggle is worth it.  The journey has been hard and it will never really be over.  I imagine that little itch, EDNOS and/or binge eating, will always be in the back of my mind, always too far out of reach to be scratched.  The last 2 weeks took a significant downturn for me and I was finding myself stuffing my face with Nutri-Grain bars (1 is healthy, 4 at one time not so much) and Chex Mix Muddy Buddies.  I ate my favorite meals over the weekend and now I’m mentally ready to buckle down.

I spent the weekend reading about the paleo diet and I’ve decided to give it a try.  More on this during the week!

Non-Mileage Training (but still running related):

I continued to attend yoga throughout my running break, along with riding my bike a few times.  This week, I’m focused on mentally pushing myself to get in every training run.  That’s my #1 goal for the week.

Impact On Real Life:

I’m just happy to not be curled up in a ball watching Lifetime movies at this point.  One day at a time!

Action Plan:

Obviously, I need to be very specific with my goals.  This week, my goal is to stick to my training plan 100% and not skip anything.  That’s all I can ask of myself right now!


Friday Five: 5 Things To Do In Pittsburgh This Month!

15 Aug

This week’s Friday Five linkup (an awesome weekly event hosted by Courtney @ Eat Pray Run DC, Mar @ Mar On The Run, and Cynthia @ You Signed Up For What!) is themed:  Free Friday, which means we are all writing about whatever we want!  Open-ended topics are so difficult for me because I usually have about a thousand things on my mind minute to minute.  How am I supposed to narrow things down into 5 coherent tidbits?!!  After a lot of thought, I’ve decided to share 5 things I’m looking forward to throughout the rest of August.  This link-up is about to get link-heavy so get ready!!  :)


1.  Yoga In The Square – Yoga has been extended through August!  Hooray!!!  This is seriously one of the coolest programs I’ve been involved in – free yoga offered in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh at Market Square.  I hope they find other interesting ways to offer free yoga (I know of another program in Highland Park on Sundays, but I’ve never been!) because I will support it every single week!  I love that there is a different instructor each week, because as a new practitioner it’s nice to see the different teaching styles.  I’ve all ready got a favorite and I will be searching her out at her home studio.

2.  Little Italy Days – August 21-23, 2014 – I don’t know if it’s the inner fat kid in me or the New Castle native, but I look forward to Little Italy Days all summer.  Give me all of the meatballs, all of the Italian flags, all of the cannolis, and bring your bocci balls while you’re at it!

3.  Savor Pittsburgh – August 21, 2014 – This elegant, end-of-summer fundraiser is worth the hefty price tag!  This exciting food competition and showcase, which will be held at Stage AE for the first time, includes an evening of bites, brews, and dancing shoes catered by Pittsburgh’s top chefs!  The event itself raises money for Magee Women’s’ Hospital, but it also gives prominent chefs the opportunity to bring their culinary A-game as they compete for “Dish Of The Year.”  You don’t want to miss it!

4.  DOG JOG!!!!  – Orientation August 31st, 2014 – I heard about this program through one of the current Animal Rescue League volunteers (my friend Cassie), and knew I had to get involved!  I’ve talked about the dog jog program before over here, but orientation is right around the corner.  I hope you are all looking forward to lots of pictures and stories because I am seriously bouncing up and down excited to spend time with those pups!

5.  Bikefest – August 8-24th, 2014 – The entire month of August is dedicated to biking events, thanks to Bike Pittsburgh.  I highly suggest checking out the schedule – there are so many cool free things coming up like group rides, educational tours, and speaker series on things like the future of downtown’s bike infrastructure.  Also, don’t forget to sign up for Pedal Pittsburgh on August 24th!

BONUS:  Sept. 1st - Doggy Dip @ The Dormont Pool!  I’m including this in August because the early-bird tickets end August 29th.  This is one of my favorite things about the end of summer!  Before they close the Dormont Pool, they host a giant dog pool party!  Tickets are $25 (early-bird) or $35 at the door. Make sure you check the schedule because there are different sessions depending on what you want (small dogs only, large dogs only, or open to all).  All proceeds benefit the Western PA Humane Society.


I hope you enjoyed this Friday Five linkup, I had fun writing it and I can’t wait to participate in more of them!!

August Happenings

13 Aug

I just read through my Bloglovin feed for the first time since July – if reading amazing words written by intelligent, fierce, creative, dynamic women doesn’t make you want to write then I don’t know what will.  I haven’t written anything in awhile because I’ve honestly been in a funk for the last few weeks.  Then, there was this media blitz on Robin Williams’ tragic suicide and that was a huge trigger for me.  I felt myself sliding even further back into the darkness.

I refuse to go willingly.  I just fucking refuse.  This post is going to be rambling and aimless and shitty, but I don’t care.  I have to write something just to feel like I am still in control of my life because I am in control goddammit.  Oh, and there might be more profanity.

August so far:

1.  Our little Transit got SMACKED by a drunk driver while it was parked in front of our house.  We are still waiting to hear if it’s totaled, but I’m pretty sure at least 1 or both of the axles are broken.  While it may look like a simple side-swipe, I assure you that there was full impact, which caused the Transit to jump into the air.  If you want to see video of the crash, you can watch here on my Instagram.  And follow me while you’re at it! @MichelleSFTS


2.  My brother came to visit me for the day and we had so much fun!!

my gum matches my hair!

my gum matches my hair!

We rode our bikes down to the point and explored downtown a little bit.  By the time we got back to my house, we were both incredibly sore so we decided to dumpster dive for coupons and then clip them.  That’s what incredibly cool people do, you know.  Afterwards, we went to Kennywood (my 1st time this summer!) where he rode almost every ride for the first time.  It was a pretty big day for him and I must say I was impressed with his bravery!  The only thing we didn’t ride was the Black Widow.


3.  I’ve come to the conclusion that Liberty is the absolutely strangest, most unique dog I’ve ever known.  She is a very weird girl and I love her for her quirks.  For example, as I glanced out the window this morning I noticed this:

photo 2(1)

Guess she just needed some privacy?  I can’t.

4.  Last weekend, Christina and I decided to fill our growlers up at our new favorite brew spot – The Brew Gentlemen in Braddock.


And yes, they had White Sky (the chai-spiced wheat beer I am obsessed with).  And yes, we are attending the Garden Party there on August 30th and you should too! We then spent the weekend drinking on our front porch while we chased away johns from the hooker’s apartment across the street.  It was extremely entertaining and my friends now say I have graduated from Block Watch Captain to Cock Block Captain.  Bea Arthur just wasn’t as into it as us, but she did enjoy loafing around in the sun.  She couldn’t keep her eyes open because she is just a natural born cuddler.



5.  My sister is coming to visit on Saturday and I couldn’t be more excited for girls day.  We are going to spend the day getting pedicures, talking about make-up, shopping, and drinking coffee.

My Semicolon

5 Aug

I’m conflicted about this space.  Some days it feels like the purest expression of myself and what I’m thinking.  Some days it feels like a surreal spotlight I’ve thrust myself into where I have to live up to this “healthy living blogger/running blogger/green blogger” stereotype.  I try very hard to find to the balance between my own privacy and the spirit of what this blog was created for.  I NEVER want this space to seem like a brand I’ve attempted to create for myself (about myself?  of myself?) – that feels so very disingenuous.  I try to keep things here very light-hearted, which is why it’s difficult when my life seems bogged down with anything BUT light-hearted stories or anecdotes.  But, I have to get this out.


Real talk?  The last 2 weeks have been a real struggle for me – everything about them has been a struggle.  I’ve been sleeping more than I’ve been doing anything else, except maybe loaf around on the couch and watch TV.  I have turned down invitations to hang out with friends, I haven’t done a single thing physically active since TWO Sundays ago, I’ve been scavenging for food, I haven’t so much as walked my dog.  And it’s not because I’m lazy.  I mean, I can be a lazy person.  I’m not denying that.  But this is more than that.  This feels like my depression, my oldest frenemy.

She reared her ugly face right around the time I got PMS a few weeks ago, but now the bitch is trying to rent a room at my house.  My depression isn’t sadness or sorrow, which I think might be more cathartic.  No, I feel like I’m a toy that’s been run down and my battery light has been blinking for awhile now.  My depression is a spectrum of apathy and drowsiness, the kind which turns your whole life into a long chain of arrested development and procrastination. If you just thought:  “Snap out of it, girl!” – you’ve never struggled with depression.  I would give anything for it to be that easy.  Though, my battle with depression no longer feels like I’m a passenger on a train that’s careening down a hill towards a village with no breaks.  I don’t feel like the village anymore either, so there’s that.  Right now it feels like I barely have the energy to type these words, and I just can’t imagine pulling myself up by the bootstraps right now.  My mind whispers to me all day, trying to lure me right back into my bed with promises of sleep.

We are given so very little time on this planet, and I feel like I’ve wasted so much of mine tangled up in varying degrees of depression.  It’s sickening, but it’s out of my control for the most part.  It’s a very real struggle in my every day life – even on days when I feel fine.  I know the only answer is to keep fighting, keep pushing, keep battling through.  If I could just get my running shoes on and get out the door, I feel like I could jump start something inside me.  Anything would be better than this feeling of just being so drained, so tired, so blah.  Sleep, all of the hours of dreamless sleep, reach for me and I let them take me.  I remember the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college where I fell asleep one afternoon and slept for 4 days straight, waking up to go to the bathroom and eat every now and then.  I truly never want to be in that mental space again:  the sleep, followed by the insomnia; the blog which was just cryptic notes and song lyrics, which was really me screaming for help; the broken trail of friendships because I could just never keep it together; the dark place that is always there, just behind my eyelids.

I don’t talk about it much, because frankly, it’s not a place I like to revisit.  10 years ago, a bomb went off inside me and I just couldn’t contain the blast.  Every single thing I had ever buried deep down inside came spilling out and I was drowning in all of it.  I had the choice whether or not to use a semi-colon or to use a period 10 years ago.  I chose not to end the sentence.  I chose to take the long, winding, treacherous journey that is “dealing with all of the things for all of time.”  I can remember very clearly what that moment felt like – the moment I chose to live – and I think about it often.  I think about it most when I’m feeling…well kind of how I’m feeling right now.  I am not a quitter, even though it seems like everyone quits on me.

I’m not writing this for applause or for sympathy.  Honestly, I’m writing it for myself.  Remembering how far I’ve come since then makes my current mental state seem like something I know I can overcome again.  And again.  And again.   I’ve done it before and I will chose that semi-colon every single fucking time I get the opportunity to do so.  I may have written this for me, but I’m posting it as a public blog entry for you.  Yes, for you.  So that if you’re ever feeling like this, you know that you’re not the only one.  It gets better.  It doesn’t always stay better – some moments, hours, days, weeks, or months are damn harder than others.  But it will get better again.  Every single morning you chose to wake up, the sun will greet you and remind you that after a darkness will always come a light.

Israeli Couscous Salad with Cucumbers + Lemony Dressing

31 Jul

This is going to make me sound crazy but….that’s nothing new around here  The one thing I miss about working downtown is the plethora of coffee places, delis, and restaurants that were available to me at my every whim.  SPECIFICALLY, the delicious little pre-packaged cold salads I used to get at Crazy Mocha in Market Square.  Ridiculous, I know.  With the dreadful humidity we had last week, I was craving a cold salad ever more so luckily I found this unassuming recipe tucked away in one of my Pinterest boards.

It’s not the most aesthetically pleasing.  It’s not all that difficult to make.  It doesn’t call for any mysterious specialized ingredients.  BUT…this salad is so packed full of flavor I won’t ever miss Market Square Crazy Mocha again!  The combination of lemon, feta, and cucumbers is absolutely incredible and you will be seeing this again and again in my regular rotation.  I had prepared this recipe as a side to take for lunches this week, but I ended up eating a portion of it for dinner by itself.  I FULLY intend to bring this to the next picnic I attend, don’t you just love a variety of cold salads?!


You should have a few cops of Israeli couscous prepared for this recipe prior to beginning!  First, remove the leaves from 1/4 of a bunch of parsley and roughly chop.  Also, prepare a large seedless cucumber by cutting it into discs, then cutting the discs into 4 pieces.  Add in the zest of 1 medium lemon.


At this point, I made a lemon vinegarette with the juice of my medium lemon, some extra virgin olive oil, salt, garlic powder, and pepper.  I poured it over the cucumber mixture and tossed it lightly, then added 3 oz. of feta cheese and 2 cups of the cooked Israeli couscous.


Mix it all up, refrigerate and enjoy!

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